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May 11, 2008 at 04:14pm IST

BJP at odds with Kalam over Indo-US nuclear deal

New Delhi: The BJP is at odds with former president APJ Abdul Kalam over his endorsement of the Indo-US nuclear deal. The party has accused Kalam, who is popularly known as the missile man, of abandoning the cause of Indian autonomy as a nuclear weapons state.

The icon of India's quest for nuclear power is now under attack by the very party, BJP, which declared India a nuclear weapons state.

Kalam, who spearheaded India's missile programme in the face of international sanctions, has been accused by the BJP of abandoning the cause of India's independent nuclear weapons programme.

“Kalam changed his views. He abandoned strategic autonomy and walked out of the agreement,” former minister for External Affairs Jaswant Singh said.

Kalam on Friday openly threw his weight behind the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, arguing that it would bring the desperately needed fuel to run India's nuclear power plants.

Kalam had said, “We need uranium and there is nothing wrong in the deal.”

The former president’s comments have a political resonance. As a key player in detonating nuclear bombs at Pokhran 10 years ago, his endorsement of the Indo-US nuclear deal blunts the view that the agreement will restrict India's nuclear weapons programme.

“There is an assumption behind the articulation that their comments equal national interest,” Singh said.

But with more and more eminent persons questioning the politics of blocking the nuclear deal, the BJP has turned its guns on the US, questioning its reliability.

"There is no word like honour in the United States of America,” Singh said.

So on the 10th anniversary of India declaring itself a nuclear weapons power, there's farce and fury at the same time.

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